Originally published in the California Adaptation Forum, April 19, 2018
Californians have suffered a devastating year of climate change impacts, ranging from wildfires to deadly heat waves. In communities where extreme heat is becoming the norm, rising energy costs threaten the health of children and seniors as families struggle to pay their utility bills. Low-income Californians pay the highest percentage of their income on energy bills, and these energy burdens are compounded by the housing crisis. It’s no surprise that utility shutoffs have skyrocketed, impacting 2.5 million Californians.
Investments in climate resilience and adaptation must prioritize the most impacted homes and communities. California has made great strides in growing a clean energy economy, with a focus on improving energy efficiency in buildings and powering them with solar energy. However, for reasons highlighted by the SB 350 Barriers Study, these investments have generally failed to reach the families who need it the most. As a first step, California needs to commit to funding proven and popular programs.
California’s Low-Income Weatherization Program (LIWP), launched in 2016, has successfully lowered energy bills for low-income and farmworker households in underserved communities across the state. LIWP is the state’s groundbreaking program designed to overcome barriers for both homeowners and renters to access the benefits of both solar and energy efficiency.
- The LIWP Multifamily program has served over 4,500 renter households, reducing energy usage by an average of 44 percent, and currently has a waitlist of over 300 multifamily properties.
- The LIWP Single-Family Homes program has provided energy efficiency upgrades for over 8,900 households and installed solar systems for over 2,900 households in California, saving families up to 90 percent on their electricity bills.
A broad coalition supports continued cap and trade funding for this essential climate resilience program, including Energy Efficiency for All (EEFA), Sustainable Communities For All (SC4A), California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA), California Coalition for Rural Housing (CCRH) and the California Climate Equity Coalition (CCEC).
Together, we urge policymakers to continue to invest in empowering the most impacted California households to adapt and thrive as our climate continues to change.